American beer has long suffered from a bit of an image problem, one that was perhaps best—and certainly most profanely—summed up by the British comedian Eric Idle. American beer, he said, is like making love in a canoe: “it’s fucking close to water.”
But now American beer is developing a different reputation thanks to the craft brew movement. Hundreds of small breweries are coming on line every year. While Big Beer still controls most of the market, craft brewers have carved out a 6.5 percent market share, with an eye on 10 percent by 2017. And despite the crowded field, there’s more camaraderie between breweries than competitiveness. This legion of brewers and their devoted followings are changing attitudes about American beer both at home and abroad. On this week’s show—a spotlight on American craft breweries, and the tiny revolutions they’re inspiring around the world.